West Virginia University Football's NFL Draft Legacy: Celebrating the Top 5 NFL Careers of Mountaineer Draft Picks

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1. Joe Stydahar (1936 NFL Draft, Round 1, Pick 6)

Rams Football, 1951
Stydahar as an NFL coach. / University of Southern California/GettyImages

 Few WVU players have made as much of an impact during their professional career as did Joe Stydahar, the program’s first-ever draft selection. Stydahar was born in Pennsylvania but grew up in The Mountain State, where he called Shinnston home. His time at his home state’s flagship university would build a foundation for a legendary professional career -- but it came after a rocky start to his collegiate career.

As a freshman, Stydahar spent a brief stint at rival school Pittsburgh in 1931 for the season’s preliminary practices. He returned from camp and reportedly then absconded to Morgantown via a sneaky car ride. There, he hid out in a fraternity house until the heat from Pittsburgh faded. 

From those humble beginnings, he became a dominant force at tackle on both sides of the ball. He earned All-American honors in 1935 and was touted by those who watched him play as one of the top tackles headed into the inaugural NFL draft.

Stydahar was the first-ever draft pick by the Chicago Bears franchise in that inaugural draft. In the big leagues, Stydahar helped lead the Bears win the NFL Championships (1940, 1941, 1946) and was a four-time NFL All-Star selection and a four-time first-team NFL All-Pro Selection. He has since been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame (1967) and College Football Hall of Fame (1972).